Statue of controversial missionary Junipero Serra could get booted from U.S. Capitol

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This statue of Father Junipero Serra was given to the National Statuary Hall Collection by California in 1931.

Photo courtesy of Architect of the Capitol

This statue of Father Junipero Serra was given to the National Statuary Hall Collection by California in 1931.

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WASHINGTON (RNS) A California lawmaker wants to replace a bronze statue of soon-to-be saint Junipero Serra with a monument honoring Sally Ride, the nation's first female astronaut.

  • Of course, there are dozens of other astronauts. Of course, they’re less…interesting because they did not get divorced, or die childless, or have a 20-odd year history of sodomy.

    Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, had a lengthy military career (including time as a fighter pilot in Korea), and was as extensively educated as Dr. Ride. For transgressive cachet, he also has a history of dipsomania and of making himself the meat and potatoes of divorce lawyers. Maybe we should swap out Ride and Serra and put in Aldrin instead.

  • Larry

    Buzz Aldrin is from New Jersey. He would not be appropriate for the California pillar. 🙂

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  • The Great God Pan

    He’s also still alive. I think these statues are supposed to honor dead people.
    But, you know, he won’t die childless and has never engaged in sodomy (*), so clearly that overrides any other concerns.

    (*) Sodomy between men and women is, of course, unthinkable.

  • Neon Genesis

    Maybe we can send you to the moon and keep you there forever and the world would be a better place.

  • Alan Shepard is deceased. He also retired to California and was buried there. Trouble is, he was married for 53 years and raised several daughters, so is a person of no interest.

  • Larry

    But he is not a California native either (from NH) nor a newcomer who was instrumental to the development of the state like Father Serra.

    That being said, I would have no problem with statues to either Aldrin or Shepard. Maybe legislators in NH and NJ could come up with reasons for them.

  • Theophilus

    Why not replace Serra with a statue of Ronald McNair? He would be one (I suspect) of very few African American in the gallery, he worked at Hughes Research Labs in Malibu as an accomplished laser physicist, and he would probably be the first Ba’hai honored.

  • Junipero Serra’s statue in the nation’s capitol building should be replaced, but with the statue of Thomas Starr King (1824-1864), which was there until 2006, when it was replaced by that of Ronald Reagan. King was credited by Abe Lincoln for keeping California in the Union during the Civil War. Serra died in 1784, before the US Constitution was written. His statue is an offense to California’s Native Americans and not worthy to replace the statue of King. The removal of King’s statue was engineered by Republican state senator Dennis Hollingsworth, who claimed not to know who King was, even though mountain peaks, streets and parks in the state are named after him. — Edd Doerr (

  • The Great God Pan

    So “Buzz Aldrin” was a typo for “Alan Shepard?” OK, I’ll buy that.

  • No, Larry complained Buzz Aldrin was not from California. Reading comprehension. It’s great stuff.

  • Larry

    Now that is a suggestion which actually makes sense given the context.
    Sounds like a good idea.

    Write your Congressman.

  • Larry

    Waitaminute McNair is not a California native.

  • Yeah, you could. Of course, there are masses of astronauts and nearly all of them were high achievers in some realm (military or academic). The distinguishing feature would be this person or that person’s communal partisanship, which is not a valid basis for this sort of thing.

  • Serra died in 1784, before the US Constitution was written

    This is relevant why?

  • Erik1986

    Perhaps because California was still a Spanish or Mexican possession in 1784? I believe the Mexican Was was circa 1846? So while Serra may be a part of the history of California, he’s not a part of the history of California as one of the United States.

  • Krag

    How about going back and reading the article. Buzz was not from California as the requirement states. Put your religious hate and BS away. There may have been other astronauts from California but they did not have the impact that Sally had. By the way,Buzz was not put in charge of Apollo 11 because he was a drunk . Buzz was also married THREE times and divorced THREE times. Screw you and your brainwashed mentality

  • Wolfman

    Why nobody thought of replacing Reagan’s statue? He impoverished and killed millions

  • Justonereply

    So, do you think your country historical roots are not relevant? Really?
    Most of european countries weren’t politically consolidated until 1500s or hundreds of years later. The concept of “nation” wasn’t born until 18th century. So do you think all european relevant people before these centuries are not important? That they mustn’t be honored by their present countries? I hope you’re not serious…

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